It's time for a new wireless router in this household. We had been using Google's system for a while, but the change to 'Nest' hardware came with it a certain lack of reliability. The main unit remains connected, but the mesh connection flakes out just when we need it most.
Seeing as the selling point of Google's Wi-Fi routers are their seamless mesh capabilities, the fact that the mesh isn't holding up is a deal breaker for us. What comes next?
(TL;DR: We like this Asus router.)
What to look for in a Wi-Fi router in 2023
There are many important features to a Wi-Fi router that you should consider. Truth is, most brands and models are pretty good, it's in the details and your exact needs that there will be one better than the other.
For this house, we desire something attractive, as it will be visible in our living room. We don't want big bright lights, nor massive spider-leg antenna....
Hold up, did we just start talking about aesthetics before any actual technical specifications? Like I said, most units are pretty good these days, it's an absolute pleasure that we can focus on seemingly inconsequential aspects of device.
Wi-Fi 6E or bust
That's right, we're at a turning point where more and more Wi-Fi 6E devices are hitting the market, it's worthwhile to update your router to keep up. That's actually one of the reasons I upgraded early to the Samsung Galaxy S23 as my main phone, for the 6E speeds.
Make no mistake, Wi-Fi 6 is very fast, you'll do just fine for a few years on a new v6 router. Wi-Fi 6E offers more and wider bands, and updated speeds, going from beyond what your devices can manage to way beyond what your devices can manage. It's barely worth worrying about it, they're both good.
In this house, the primary reason we want Wi-Fi 6E is in conjunction with a tri or quad-band system. We have multiple people and systems in this house that require reliable connectivity. One of us can't get dropped from a work call just because another is loading a show on the TV.
In a world of wireless connectivity, we actually have a lot of RJ45 connectors sprouting out of our gear. The Google Router was always annoying to have to have a patch panel attached. It works, but every extra hop is one more point of failure.
Lastly, broadcast power is of concern for us. We have a big brick (and metal) fireplace in the house, and metal siding on the outside. These are considerations in multiple ways. First, we need enough power to blast through, or get around the brick, but too much power and we'll get signal interference bouncing back off the metal siding.
Our new router
Considering the price of the best Wi-Fi 6E routers on the market today, we'll have to live with something a little less than the very best. Many machines are running $450 - $600 right now, we're looking to spend no more than $300 ourselves.
ASUS RT-AXE7800 (23% off on Amazon)
This is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router that usually sells for a little over $300, it's on sale right now for an all-time low price, which is nice. Promising wireless speeds up to 7800Mbps, wired speeds of 2.5Gbps, and 7 extra 160MHz-channels in the 6GHz band, we expect all of our devices will remain reliably connected.
Other routers we considered
(Prices on May 24, 2023)
ASUS ROG Rapture Wi-Fi 6E gaming router ($599 on Amazon)
MSI Radix AXE6600 Wi-Fi 6E router ($286 on Amazon)
TP-Link AXE16000 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E router ($499.99 on Amazon)
Linksys Hydra Pro mesh system ($279.99 on Amazon)
Google Nest WiFi Pro 3-pack mesh ($399.98 on Amazon)
Netgear Nighthawk AXE7800 Wi-Fi 6E router ($349.99 on Amazon)